Paper No. 217-6
Presentation Time: 9:35 AM
MENTORING PROGRAMS FOR STUDENTS AND FACULTY: A KEY COMPONENT OF DEI ACTION PLANS
The educational system is designed to incrementally increase the learning challenges for the students. However, the complexity of the transition from high school to college and from college to graduate school is often underestimated, especially for first generation students, due to the social and economic ramifications of the academic experience. Similarly, the transition from post graduate studies to academic positions introduces several challenges for many researchers at the beginning of their academic career. Yet, mentoring programs for students and faculty are still largely undervalued in academia. Mentors are a key component in successful careers in college, graduate school, and academia. Undergraduates, especially first-generation students, must be aware of all the possible opportunities for higher education and professional careers to make informed decisions for their future. Graduates must learn how to develop their critical thinking to evolve from students into researchers and teachers. Assistant professors must learn to advise students in research and teaching. These are just few examples of why mentors are crucial for the careers of the new generation of scientists. Generally, all students and researchers in their early careers have an adviser or a supervisor; however, mentoring does not simply mean providing scientific directions and overseeing the work, but it also includes active listening, role modeling, honest feedback, and career support. Even though mentorship is a key component of education and research, it still has a marginal role in the evaluation process of faculty. A very small number of institutions include mentoring in the tenure and promotion evaluation process and few professional associations honor mentorship with awards. The entire scientific community should strive for building mentoring programs through departmental action plans as well as professional associations and assessing mentoring as part of the evaluation process.